Ivanka Trump, Chelsea Clinton, and me

Thanks to Ivanka Trump’s convention speech, gender and pay is suddenly relevant on the Republican side of the presidential race, as well as the Democratic [Danielle Paquette, Washington Post “WonkBlog”] You have to wait for the last four paragraphs to get the me part. For those paywalled out of the WP:

Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the right-leaning Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies, said he doesn’t dispute Ivanka’s thoughts on pay and motherhood — but cautions against tweaking laws to close the pay gap.

“All legislation attempting to prescribe the terms and conditions of employment has unintended side effects as employers adjust,” he wrote in an email, “and these are likely to be especially salient if the pay gap is largely or entirely the result of families’ own decisions.”

One such unintended side effect: After Chile required companies to provide child care to working mothers, women’s wages dropped.

Olson said [workplace reformers] might instead encourage fathers to take leave time and seek flexible hours, which could even the playing field for working moms, who still tend to shoulder the bulk of the burden. Also, clear the way for businesses to allow remote work. Managers could also build a work culture where telecommuting is acceptable, helping parents better juggle work and home.

I’ve used brackets above to clarify that in my view it’s not especially politicians’ role (as opposed to that of social thinkers interested in these issues) to come up with ideas for how employers might change HR policies. Earlier on the issue here.


  • The company that I work for has a department that is primarily staffed with young women. At any given time about 20% of them are on maternity leave. There is also a high turnover rate from women who work long enough to be covered under insurance, have their child and then resign to take care of their child. Due to the learning curve for this department, they have to keep it overstaffed. Federal law mandates their ability to take leave to have a child and I have no problem with that, but, I can also understand them being paid a bit less because of it.

  • The bigger issue is that when the data is analyzed according to profession and various other factors (length of service, etc.), there is no pay gap.

    The even bigger issue is that the government has no authority to interfere in this manner in the workplace.